The card was not all that unusual. "With all the best wishes for the New Year." But the postmark was.
Türkiye, it read, the Turkish spelling of the word for the country that spans Europe and Asia. The well-wisher was Gördes Carpets & Jewelry, the main store at Babali No. Cd. No 15/17, Cagologu, Istanbul. This is what we got for buying a carpet in Istanbul, marketing hands across the sea.
Which raises the question; just how many businesses are this attentive to customers? Does your business, in the era of the Internet and internationalization, track prospects across thousands of miles?
The saga started with a typical half-day city tour in Istanbul in April. Experienced travelers know most tours end up with the guide guiding the tourists to some place that is trying to sell something. In this case, it was the Gördes carpet store, which suspiciously happened to be the only store on the block just off the main part of the old city of Istanbual, that was open on Sunday.
Gördes, I would learn via Googling, is a town in Anatolia that has been making a particular type of rug in the seventeenth century and also is a term to describe the Turkish knot. So it's a brand name.
A presentation of the varieties of handmade rugs, wool on cotton, cotton on cotton, and silk, some lubricating Turkish tea, and somehow, a credit card appeared and we wear the proud owners of a rug (wool on cotton), with taxes and shipping included in the deal. We also got the plea of how minimum wages required by the European Union, which Turkey hopes to join, could drive up the price of the items made in a vanishing craft. Buy know, was the message. It's a good investment.
"Should we have bargained?" my wife asked.
"Nobody acted interested, at first. I think he started low," I replied. "Besides, I looked at the owner's suit. He didn't get clothing like that by bargaining a lot."
The rug showed up as promised (there was another purchase on mainland Turkey as we toured another rug factory) and we happy with the purchase and service from both companies. Then, one day, our phone rang.
"Hi, we're in the country, and we have a truck full of rugs. We can drop if you are home." Another time, my wife told them. "Just not today. Keep our number handy."
That was a few months ago, before the card "Reflections from the past in Istanbul," with a stylized view of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia showed up in the mail box.
So just how much is a good customer worth? How many people are willing to keep track of these relationships across countries, seas, and differing languages? Whatever the answer is for your business, I'm confident we'll hear from our friends from Turkey again. After all, we could use another carpet.

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